Red Dot Design Museum – Essen
The Red Dot Design Museum is a museum in Essen, Germany, dedicated to industrial design. With a floor area of 4,000 square meters and a collection of over 2,000 objects, it is one of the largest design museums in the world.
History and location
The museum’s roots trace back to the Permanent Show of Elegant Industrial Products (German: Ständige Schau formschöner Industrieerzeugnisse) opened in Essen in 1955 in order to showcase the best of German industrial production (the exhibition was financially supported by famous Essen-based company Krupp).
In the following decades, the museum changed location three times, and was first renamed Haus Industrieform, and then Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen.
Eventually renamed Red Dot Design Museum, in 1997 the institution moved to its current home.
The building of the museum is part of the Zeche Zollverein, a monumental former coal mine industrial complex, founded in 1847, which was declared UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001.
The Zeche Zollverein UNESCO site in Essen, photo by Rainer Halama
View of the “Haus Industrieform” exhibition at the Old Synagogue in Essen, 1961, one of the precursors of the Red Dot Design Museum. Photo Marga KinglerFotoarchiv Ruhr Museum
The five-story museum’s home, a former boiler house built in 1929, was renovated and converted into an exhibition venue after a design by British architect Lord Norman Foster. The project by Foster has retained much of the industrial architecture of the old building as well as some of its original fittings, including pipework, pressure gauges, and steel girders.
The current name of the museum originates from the Red Dot Design Award, a well-known prize, awarded by the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen, aimed to recognize each year the most innovative designs in various fields, including home furniture, lighting, household appliances, cookware, tableware, sports equipment, fashion, luggage, urban design, tools, robotics, healthcare, vehicles, consumer electronics, communication design, and more.
Red Dot Design Museum Essen. Photo by mompl
Interior views of the museum. Photos © Red Dot Design Museum
Photo: Sebastian Kautz
Exhibition and activities
The permanent exhibition of the Red Dot Design Museum features object from the vast collection of the museum, most of which are displayed on rotation after a selection made by an international jury of experts, the same of the Red Dot Prize.
The exhibition reflects the manifold character of the prize – with a special attention to vehicles, lighting, communication, and consumer electronics – and includes special sections dedicated to Apple computers and communication devices, to Philips consumer electronics products, and an iconic installation featuring a Audi A8 aluminum frame hung from the museum’s ceiling.
The Red Dot Design Museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, creative workshops, and educational programs for kids, families, and schools.
Permanent exhibition, installation views. Photos © Red Dot Design Museum
Cover photo by Fredrik Linge